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"In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute."
-Thurgood Marshall, first African American U.S. Supreme Court member

 

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Black History Month
Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in the U.S., is an annual observance in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. The national celebration began February 1st and will continue through February 28th.

The New Funding Formula
Troy Rohn
Troy Rohn served as my substitute last week in the legislature. He has been kind enough to write a piece on the proposed new education funding formula.

New funding formula legislation is expected shortly. It will be one of the most important bills of this session. The proposed new formula will create a monumental shift in how the state funds public education in Idaho.

This updated funding mechanism will change the Idaho public school funding formula from a resource allocation funding formula to a student-centered funding formula that includes a base funding amount per student with weights added for special populations that would include, for example, English language learners, special education students, and gifted and talented students. This new formula would have a primary focus on student enrollment, not average daily attendance (ADA), which is a real plus that everyone can agree on. There are numerous disadvantages of using ADA to fund schools

  • Chronically Absent students can cost school systems millions of dollars
  • Negative effect on schools with higher poverty and minority populations
  • One major problem with ADA is that districts must plan their budgets and staffing on an annual basis, and mid-year adjustments based on attendance counts, result in reductions in funding that are difficult to absorb mid-stream in the school year. The bottom line is that districts and charter schools are obligated to have services available for all who might attend, not just all who do on a given day. Costs do not go down because a student is absent.

Probably the most impactful and least understood aspect of the new funding formula is the "wealth factor". The wealth factor uses property values to assess a penalty to districts who have high property values and provides a bonus to those that have lower property values- regardless of whether a district can pass or has an ongoing levy. An example of how the wealth factor is misguided is in the small rural community of Bliss that has high property values per student due to low enrollment numbers and expensive real estate along the Snake River Canyon. Despite these higher property values, 82% of the students in the Bliss School District qualify for free/reduced lunch yet, Bliss will not receive any additional funds through the wealth factor.

In summary, much work remains to be done to produce a formula that does not generate winners and losers. In addition, our Board has complete confidence in our legislators including Sen. Buckner-Webb, that they will advocate for the necessary changes needed in the current model to one that is equitable, fair, and is best for our students in all school districts across Idaho.

Fred Riggers Disability Awareness Day
On Tuesday, January 29th, the Capitol hosted Fred Riggers Disability Awareness Day. Riggers spent 17 years as an advocate for the disabled community, and is still a memorable face. He passed away in 2016, but had fought for the equal rights for people with disabilities and continues to leave a legacy. While we celebrated his life and acknowledged all he's done for this community, we continue to recognize the needs and raise awareness on how to support people with disabilities.

Buy Idaho
Buy Idaho is a "state-wide community of businesses working together to ensure that Idaho remains a place to celebrate. We are farmers, artisans, bakers, coffee roasters, service and health providers, governmental agencies, and academic institutions" (Buy Idaho). This network of businesses visits the Capitol annually to showcase all their members, products, services, and more. It is always fun to learn about the local companies and see the expansion of commerce in the state. This year, vendors came out to make grilled cheeses, hand out essential oils, provide information on insurance and banks, and so much more. It is always a nice reminder to continue buying from our local companies and to invest back into Idaho's economy. Buy Idaho acknowledges the large impact buying local has on the statewide economy; If everyone in the state spent just $100 with Idaho Businesses, we would generate over $9 million dollars in tax revenue to help improve the state. Make sure to go out and support local!

BSU Survey Finds Idahoans Believe the State is Headed in the Right Direction
The Boise State School of Public Service conducts an annual survey to better understand the climate of Idaho's public policy on residents. The general conclusion is that Idaho is headed in the right direction, with 59.5 percent of Idahoans believing the state is moving in the right direction and a 29.6 percent saying it is headed in the wrong direction. A large takeaway from the survey is the overwhelming support for the state to fund early childhood education. As the Idaho Press reported, "The highest support of all came when respondents were asked if they supported increasing funding for early childhood education in order to give local school districts the flexibility to fund programs designed to ensure children are reading proficiently by the third grade. A full 77 percent supported that, more than three-quarters" (Betsy Russell, Idaho Press). You can read the entire article here.

News You Can Use:
Marsy's Law Rally on the Capitol Steps, February 6th
The Stand Up for Victim's Rights Rally will begin at 9:30 on the front steps of the Capitol Building.

New Funding Formula Listening Session, Thursday, February 7th
A joint listening session over the proposed new education funding formula will take place in the Statehouse at 3:00 pm. You can read the draft here.

District 19 Forums
Your District 19 Representatives are hosting forums throughout February in order to hear from you. These will be held on the following Tuesdays at 6:00 pm. We would love for you to attend!

  • February 5, 2019 at Hidden Springs Elementary School
  • February 19, 2019 at Shadow Hills Elementary School
  • February 26, 2019 at Idaho State Capitol, room WW55

Committee Assignments
This session I am sitting on the following Senate-Standing committees: Education, State Affairs, and Transportation. You are always able to live stream committee meetings or read about what took place by accessing the online site at http://idahoptv.org/insession/leg.cfm.

Here to Serve You
My goal is to address the immediate needs of District 19 while working strategically toward long term solutions. It is my honor to serve you in the Idaho State Senate. Know that your letters, emails, texts, and calls are invaluable. I appreciate hearing what is most important to you and your family.

You can reach me at (208) 332-1339 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cherie

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Cherie Buckner-Webb
Senate D-19 Campaign
P.O. Box 9813
Boise, ID 83707

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Phone: 208-861-5482